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League Bulletin

August 21, 2020

WHAT HAPPENED: Your 2020 Census response rates became all the more important. Eyes remained glued to Capitol Hill for signs of new coronavirus relief dealmaking. The governor signed a new executive order that in part says persons with criminal histories will not have to disclose them on applications for state jobs for the most part. A state task force has suggested policy changes for local policing. And House Rules Chairman David Lewis submitted his resignation from the legislature effective immediately and pleaded guilty to federal charges tied to use of campaign money. 

WHAT IT MEANS: Let’s talk about the 2020 Census right now. We’ve already informed you about the U.S. Census Bureau’s plans to wrap up early -- at the end of September -- but North Carolina’s response rate remains so low that billions upon billions of dollars are at stake. That’s money we can’t afford to lose. Let’s not forget that the Census is, in a way, a competitive program -- communities that don’t participate essentially waive access to funds allocated on census results. Communities benefit when they participate in the Census. Keep spreading the word! This is so important. 

ON TAP: It comes as we continue looking to Capitol Hill for signs of a deal on more pandemic relief resources, ideally with direct allocations to municipal governments. 

THE SKINNY: We’ve been supplying data and other context to our partners at the National League of Cities as they lobby Congress for help. NLC President Joe Buscaino, the president pro tem of the Los Angeles City Council, pointed out that work in an email to members this week. “The current stalemate in Congress over the next emergency relief package is a clear and distressing message to local officials that some in Congress and the Administration remain unconvinced or unaware of the grim reality facing communities large and small across the nation,” he stated. Our ears are to the ground for what may come at the state level; the General Assembly is expected back in session on Sept. 2.

The League’s annual compendium of legislative action relevant to cities and towns is out now. It’s the End of Session Bulletin, which provides special, digestible context to explain the tone and focus of the session along with what happened with each bill we tracked this year -- a year like no other, our League Board of Directors officers explain in the intro. 

Read the 2020 End of Session Bulletin.  

The state’s Task Force on Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, or TREC, has come out with three policy recommendations meant to reduce disproportionate negative effects on communities of color. Established by the governor in June, TREC is a 24-member body led by Attorney General Josh Stein and N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita Earls.
Verbatim from TREC: 

  • The Task Force recommends that all North Carolina law enforcement agencies enact a policy articulating a duty to intervene and report in any case where a law enforcement officer may be a witness to what they know to be an excessive use of force or other abuse of a suspect or arrestee.
  • The Task Force recommends that all North Carolina law enforcement agencies enact a Use of Force policy that, at a minimum, prohibits neck holds.  Law enforcement agencies should consider using the sample policy language below.
    • Sample Policy Language “NECK HOLDS PROHIBITED. Law enforcement officers shall not use chokeholds, strangleholds, Lateral Vascular Neck Restraints, Carotid Restraints, chest compressions, or any other tactics that restrict oxygen or blood flow to the head or neck unless necessary to protect the life of the officer.”
  • The Task Force recommends that the North Carolina Supreme Court enact a General Rule of Practice, which would require an assessment of a defendant’s ability to pay prior to the levying of any fines and fees.
TREC, which met on Monday, is expected to continue issuing policy recommendations for local law enforcement agencies. 

Separately, this week, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a new executive order that says in part that persons with criminal histories will not have to disclose them on applications for state jobs for the most part. That’s a change in longstanding hiring policy that, via this executive order, does not apply to local governments. But Section 5 (d) does encourage adoption at the local level. The order also has implications for government contractors as it asks state hiring officials to look at the feasibility of requiring companies that contract with the state to similarly discontinue asking applicants about criminal histories. The Insider State Government News Service covered a conference in which Governor Cooper remarked on the policy: “People will get a chance to shine and show themselves on their own merit when going through the employment process.” The order is effective Nov. 1. According to the Insider, 35 other states and 150 cities and counties (including 10 in this state) already have such policies or laws. 

North Carolina needs to boost its 2020 Census response rate in a big way to avoid losing billions upon billions of federal dollars, the latest numbers indicate. Please do all you can to communicate this in your own communities. Responding to the 2020 Census takes just a few minutes; the effects ripple for a decade. 

We reported to you in a recent Bulletin that the U.S. Census Bureau was going to shut down field-data collection Sept. 30 -- earlier than previously expected. North Carolina is severely under counted as only a few weeks remain, and our rural areas are especially behind. Our state--the 4th fastest growing and 9th largest--will lose $7.4 billion in funding with our current count. The consequences of that will be felt far into the future. This isn't abstract money--these are your tax dollars, already paid and collected. If we don't lay claim to it through a proper count, it will go elsewhere.

This will be felt most locally, in your hometowns: roads, schools, emergency services, veterans services, senior care, early education programs, parks, infrastructure, economic development, and on and on. Imagine where N.C. can be in 10 years with that additional, much-earned $74 billion. Imagine where we may be without it. For more information on North Carolina's precarious position, read Carolina Demography's article "N.C.'s Current 2020 Census Response is Concerning." Census workers are out knocking on doors, but the current count is far too low for them to ensure a complete count. 

But every response the Census Bureau records is impactful. Consider these figures:

A Census response brings $1,823 per person, per year in federal and state funds back to N.C. counties and towns.

That's $18,230 over the decade.

For a family of five, that's $91,150.

For a neighborhood of 150, that's $2,734,000.

Please take advantage of your connections with the community. Speak to local leaders and organizers: shop owners, faith leaders, community groups, etc. 

Our Census page has information, links, and talking points to help.

Nearly all of our cities and towns have official Facebook pages. There are also many more community pages and local Facebook groups. Now is the time to leverage those community message boards. Below is a message to share on those Facebook pages. Please feel free to edit as you feel fit. What's important is that our citizens understand just how critical the 2020 Census is. 

Currently, North Carolina is severely undercounted in the 2020 Census. We are on track to lose $7.4 billion in federal funding annually. These are our tax dollars--hard earned and rightfully ours--and this funding is critical. The only way to access that money is to be fully counted.

Here's what it will affect:
  • Roads and transportation
  • Early education
  • Senior services
  • Veterans services
  • Infrastructure that supports local businesses
  • Rural development
  • Emergency services
  • Military resources
  • Parks and recreation programs
If you have not yet responded to the 2020 Census, do so immediately. It takes less than 10 minutes. All information is confidential, and specific information is unable to be accessed by law for 72 years. All that matters is that you are counted, since federal funds will be distributed by population.

Help keep our community strong.

You can respond immediately online or by phone:


Phone: ​844-330-2020​

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The Energy Policy Council, an advisory group under the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, has issued a report with legislative recommendations that would preempt local control over the right to ban energy choices. It's only a recommendation; no legislation has come forth at this time. From the report: "North Carolina should consider adopting legislation, similar to that recently approved in Tennessee and Arizona, that prevents local governmental entities from banning energy choices. Energy policy should be enacted by the General Assembly and implemented by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Integrated resource planning, conducted in the best interest of all North Carolina consumers, cannot be optimally accomplished in a fractured, uncoordinated basis that varies by county or municipality." 

House Rules Chairman David Lewis has resigned from the legislature amid federal charges tied to use of campaign funds. North State Journal reports that federal authorities have charged Lewis with a pair of federal crimes and that Lewis has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for late tax filing and a felony charge tied to a false statement made to a bank, altogether related to use of his campaign accounts. Read the full news report.